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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Can NorCo Council Term Limit the Exec?

Last Thursday, Northampton County Council introduced a proposal that will ask voters to decide on term limits for the County Executive. If voters agree, the Executive would be limited to two terms of office. Council members are currently limited to three terms in office.

One of my readers asks me if this is wise or even legal.

I'm not the person to ask if something is wise. I know term limits are popular. My own feelings are conflicted. I often think that state and federal legislators should be term limited. But when it comes to municipal office, elected officials usually improve with experience. The best run townships usually have people who have been in office several terms. My view is that an Executive becomes more powerfulthe longer heis in office, so I'd agree o term limits, but it should be three terms like Council members.

Is this legal? I'm a disbarred lawyer, but I can tell you that the Supreme Court has ruled that any change to a Home Rule government that changes the form of government must be preceded by a home rule charter study commission.

This proposal makes no change to the form of government, so no home rule charter study commission is needed. I believe the proposal is legal.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have always ben dubious so term limits. That being said in recent years I have become very open to some term limits. At the federal and sate lev3el absolutely. Sadly, these folks get in these legislative offices grow fat and rich. They send political taxpayer funded mailers year round, hold meaningless public meetings and gerrymander themselves into perpetual office holding. In fact gerrymandering is about the only thing the two patties work together on anymore.. Ultimately they pass no laws and solve no problems
So, yes I now join millions in calling for federal and state legislative and executive term limits.
At the local level it seems unnecessary. People can go in to any meeting easily. The officeholders are generally available. As of now I think it seems to regulate itself. I know of no county elected official parked in the position. I agree with executive positions because they garner power through the jobs and contracts they hand out. So for them maybe but to limit the local part time legislative positions seems to be more political showmanship than attempts at goo government.

Anonymous said...

So how does that affect Peg Ferraro? She has been on county council for one hundred years.

Anonymous said...

Political horseshit to appeal to their hate government base. How about a law that states if you raise real estate taxes 10% you have to not run again, That would wipe these incumbents out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with 5:11. This is just political pandering to their base to say, hey look at me I did one thing now re elect me

We have never had a 3 term executive in NORCO so why do we need to waste our time on this nonsense?

Anonymous said...

Come November Brown is out. Believe that

Anonymous said...

Four years of Ed Pawlowski is too much. Here is a guy who tried to leave Allentown twice, [Senator and Governor], but the illiterate public keep electing this guy in. Terms limits, as in Bethlehem, would work in the instant case. If he had to leave after 8-years, maybe we wouldn't have to go through his disgusting "pay to play scheme" he engineered for job security.

Anonymous said...

Keeps the office from being bought like that in Allentown. I'm all for term limits of any political office. Lack of term limits is the reason we have the problems we due in DC. Lets stop it here before its to late.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"We have never had a 3 term executive in NORCO so why do we need to waste our time on this nonsense?"

We almost did.

I have no problem with term limits. They are popular. We live in a democracy. Let the people decide this question.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I deleted a petty personal attack aimed at people who are no longer in office. Sign your name.

Anonymous said...

Terms are easily limited at the ballot box. Term limit laws undercut voter will. Allentown is a good example. As distasteful as their current mayor is, voters who showed up renominated him easily. I think they made a stupid mistake. But I don't live there and they should have the liberty to make, and live with, their own mistakes. I think most politicians hang on too long. But I'm a purist and don't like a term limits solution. I also can't stand the baseball DH.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:40 makes an interesting point. The idea of legislative term limits, especially locally does appear to protect those who do not vote from those that do.

Anonymous said...

Why not vote to limit tax increase to less than the 10% they voted for?

Anonymous said...

Guess you didn't read the post. It won't. She is not the County Executive!

Anonymous said...

But she has been on county council for many years.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Peg is bound by a separate HRC provision limiting her to three terms. I believe this is the last term she can serve.

Anonymous said...

I believe this "law" would be thrown out by the courts if a person ever ran and challenged it if elected too a fourth consecutive term.

Anonymous said...

Okay, please tell me when I voted to change the HRC to limit Council's terms?
Act 62 gives Home Rule Municipalities the right to draft their own HRC's. Northampton County has a few rules that probably could be changed but does the Home Rule Charter spell out how the Charter can be changed?

Bernie O'Hare said...

You did not. Council imposed te term limits without seeking the approval of voters, which is arguably illegal.

Anonymous said...

The county placed a classified ad in the Express-Times in what appeared to be a voter referendum. Does this mean this issue will be on the ballot come November?

Anonymous said...

No. It would be May 2018.

Ken Kraft said...

we placed an add in the paper?

news to me!

Anonymous said...

There is a right way and a wrong way to amend the Home Rule Charter. Go back through the "Solicitor's Opinions" and you will find his "legal opinion" on the correct way to change the Charter.
In my opinion, when a group of individuals (like our present County Council) gather together for the good of the people, and they can't find something good (constructive) to do, they start piddling with the rules so it looks like they are doing something. It's also called "window dressing". This do nothing Council is putting up a smoke screen to cover up there in-ability to do something constructive.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's also called paper hanging. that's the term Angle would use. But this is not window dressing or paper hanging. This is a substantive change to the Home Rule Charter, and on a question that should be decided by the people, not Council. I do not believe it involves a change in the form of government, but if it does, it requires a home rule charter study commission.

I believe we are due for a new home rule charter study. Is home rule working?